Complexificaton: Is ElasticSearch Making a Case for a Google Search Solution?

November 24, 2012

I don’t have any dealings with Google, the GOOG, or Googzilla (a word I coined in the years before the installation of the predator skeleton on the wizard zone campus). In the briefings I once endured about the GSA (Google speak for the Google Search Appliance), I recall three business principles imparted to me; to wit:

  1. Search is far too complicated. The Google business proposition was and is that the GSA and other Googley things are easy to install, maintain, use, and love.
  2. Information technology people in organizations can often be like a stuck brake on a sports car. The institutionalized approach to enterprise software drags down the performance of the organization information technology is supposed to serve.
  3. The enterprise search vendors are behind the curve.

Now the assertions from the 2004 salad days of Google are only partially correct today. As everyone with a colleague under 25 years of age knows, Google is the go to solution for information. A number of large companies have embraced Google’s all-knowing, paternalistic approach to digital information. However, others—many others, in fact—have not.

One company which is replete with $10 million in venture money is ElasticSearch. Based on the open source technology which certain university computer science departments hold in reverence, ElasticSearch is marketing its heart out. I learned that Searchblox, the brother owned and operated cloud search service, has embraced ElasticSearch. Today I received a link to “Working with ElasticSearch in Scala.”

Scala, in case you are not hip to the brave new world, is a “general purpose programming language designed to express common programming patterns in a concise, elegant, and type-safe way. It smoothly integrates features of object-oriented and functional languages, enabling Java and other programmers to be more productive. Code sizes are typically reduced by a factor of two to three when compared to an equivalent Java application.”

Source: The Strategic Complexity Framework for Dummies by Vinay Gupta. See Who wants to be “borked”? Not I when implementing an overly complex search solution. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Score one for Google. The article makes clear that Scala and ElasticSearch may require some technical skills which are not likely to be found in the local trucking company’s IT department. Truth be told, the expertise to work through the information in the write up can be found at Google type companies, a good sized state university, and in the noodle shops of Wuhan-like places.

Here’s a snippet from the write up:

Elasticsearch is schemaless. We can index any json to it. We have a bulk json file, each line is a json. For our implementation: Application reads file line by line and index json to the elasticsearch.

Moving on, we learn:

We create a node using nodeBuilder. We then create a client from node created. There is a method indexJson that accepts json string and an id which is like a primary key. in the prepareIndex call on client we pass three parameters

  • 1) name of the index: “esa” in our case
  • 2) document type: “activityStream” in our case
  • 3) unique id: an unique value. We can use it for searching

We then set the source as json passed in the method and we are done. We now expect that json will be indexed by elasticsearch.

One consequence of complexity is that it stimulates search appliance interest. The licensees are not the folks with Java in their bloodstream and black coffee in their coffee cup. The licensees are decision makers who want a simple solution to certain types of search challenges. Now Google is not the only appliance maker. You can get appliances from Exegy, Index Engines, and Maxxcat, among other vendors.

Why are these and other simplified solutions such as LucidWorks’ cloud approach thriving?

The reasons go back to Google’s original vision for the GSA product. Search is far too complicated. Search as a result becomes a source of friction when deployed in an Autonomy- or Endeca-style system. The “box of parts” approach to findability is fraught with risk. (Check out the revenue excitement about the Fast Search & Transfer and the Autonomy deals.)

In short, Elasticsearch is helping Google and other appliance makers. What happens when an open source search wizard moves to greener pastures at IBM or, believe it or not, Microsoft. That “free” or “low cost” complex solution looks like another challenge for organizations with a full plate of problems. Just my opinion about complex search solutions.

Stephen E Arnold, November 26, 2012


One Response to “Complexificaton: Is ElasticSearch Making a Case for a Google Search Solution?”

  1. Complexificaton: Is ElasticSearch Making a Case for a Google Search Solution? « Another Word For It on November 25th, 2012 10:15 am

    […] Complexificaton: Is ElasticSearch Making a Case for a Google Search Solution? by Stephen Arnold. […]

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta